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Old October 29, 2011, 12:29 PM   #14
Lost Sheep
Senior Member
Join Date: January 24, 2009
Location: Anchorage Alaska
Posts: 3,340
There's a lot you can do without

Look at your list and ask, for each piece of equipment, "Do I ABSOLUTELY need this to assemble a cartridge?"

Only three things are physically required. Others are required by sanity. Others are optional or at least deferable.

Physically required:

Press. Fingers are not strong enough to shape metal.

Dies. Fingers are neither strong nor precise enough to shape metal.

Some way to mete powder. Eyeballs are not accurate enough. (a powder scale, a dispenser/measure or dippers)

Some think it suicidal to load without a scale, but powder CAN be effectively meted out with small measuring spoons, scoops or dippers. The trick is to know which scoop will deliver what weight of which powder. At least one manufacturer sells a set of scoops accompanied by a table containing that information.

Sanity required:

Safety glasses, especially when working with primers

Loading manual(s) have a lot of "how-to" in their early chapters and the load recipes in them have been vetted for safety and performance.

Optional or deferable: Those things you can get by without, at least for a while. You can also make some of the items yourself.

Bullet Scale: Commercially made bullets are generally the weight the package says.

Funnel: This $3 item can be substituted for by one made of a sheet of paper.

Bullet puller: If you have a cartridge that needs the bullet pulled, you can simply put it aside until you get a bullet puller. I loaded for several years
without one, and another several years before ever needing to use it.

Dedicated priming tool: Most presses have some kind of priming ability. I have used different priming tools and still prefer to prime on-press anyway.

Micrometer: The chamber of your gun will tell you most of what you need to know. Most components are sized properly from the manufacturer. If something does not fit properly, set it aside until you get a micrometer. I loaded for over 30 years before I needed one. Not to say I would not have used it if I had one, or even that my ammunition might not have been of better quality. But it went "Bang" and delivered groups equal to what I got with factory ammo, so I was happy.

Vibratory Brass Cleaner or Tumbler: I loaded for 30 years without one. I wiped any foreign material from my brass with a soft, absorbent cloth. Now that I have a cleaner, I spend more time separating the cleaning media from the brass than I did wiping my brass with the cloth. But they do LOOK prettier. They shoot the same as ever.

Case Length Trimmer: Generally not needed for straight-walled cases. For
bottle-necked cases, not at first, but eventually. You will want a proper case
length gauge and/or micrometer as well. But in the meantime, those cases can simply be set aside.

Lost Sheep
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